Operant behavior is studied in tethered Drosophila flies using visual motion, heat or odour as operandum and yaw torque, thrust or direction of flight as operans in various combinations (Fig. 1). On the basis of these results a conceptual framework of operant behavior is proposed: (1) It requires a goal (desired state) of which the actual state deviates. (2) To attain the goal a range of motor programs is activated (initiating activity, see Fig. 7). (3) Efference copies of the motor programs are compared to the sensory input referring to the deviation from the desired state (e.g. by cross-correlation). (4) In case of a significant coincidence the respective motor program is used to modify the sensory input in the direction towards the goal. (5) Consistent control of a sensory stimulus by a behavior may lead to a more permanent behavioral change (conditioning). In this scheme operant activity (1-4) and operant conditioning (1-5) are distinguished.